Fall has always been one of my favorite season. Halloween, cool fall night, Deadwood Jam (a local concert fest) and again this year, the Custer State Park Buffalo Round-Up! Last year was my first experience with the round-up. I didn’t get to chase the buffalo on horseback or in a vehicle but the awe and excitement of 10,000 people watching a buffalo herd being moved by horseback rider was palpable.
Although the big show happens on Friday, there is a lot of work that leads up to the event. In the weeks leading up to the round-up the buffalo are moved from larger pastures to progressively smaller ones. On this particular day I played chauffeur to some members of the media while the crew brought the buffalo into one of those pastures.
While it’s never boring to work with the media, the true highlight of the day was mingling with the buffalo herd. Up close, personal, close enough to almost tough that dark wooly fur. To be in the presence of so many magestic animals is a rare treat.
Lewis and Clark National Historic Park was the second national park we visited on our recent road trip. Our travels took us to Fort Clatsop, located on the Oregon border. Fort Clatsop is where Lewis and Clark spent the winter after reaching the Pacific Ocean in their transcontinental journey. While the real fort no longer stands, the replica is insanely cool, complete with re-enactors. And for this Midwestern kid, who hails from the land of tiny, arid pine trees, the location of the fort in the giant temperate rainforest was worthy of a park all alone. I am completely amazed that Lewis and Clark even managed to find the ocean through all that jungle!
We didn’t do our research on this park very well and only had a few hours for our visit. This place is AMAZING and really deserves at least one full day. There are some old-time activities that are offered that would have been fun to try but with our limited time we opted to just take a quick peek inside the fort and then go explore. We fit in a short hike down to the Netul River and also checked out some of the displays at the visitor center.
There were so many things to see and do here and we definitely didn’t do it justice. I was so bummed we didn’t have time to canoe the Netul River and there are a bunch of bigger hikes that looked super fun. We are planning on returning at some point and putting these at the top of the agenda. If you can’t tell, we really enjoyed this park and are already planning a return adventure! If you are out in the part of the world, you need to visit this place. You won’t be disappointed.
When we are traveling, one question Jake and I get all the time is, “How does your little one do in the car?” Honestly, she does great. 99% of this is pure luck and not anything that we have done. Most of the time driving lulls her to sleep. We’ve quickly learned to align our driving and stops to her nap schedule to take full advantage of this. We will often leave for a trip later in the evening so she can fall asleep and we can get a good ways down the road. The next day we will travel during her morning nap. When she is ready for some mid-day fun we find something interesting and go explore. This gets her out moving and interacting so that she is ready to go back down for another nap after an hour or two.
Of course, we use the same tricks that every family does. Cheerios, fruit, lots of books and her favorite stuffed animals are mandatory items on the packing list these days. Also, since she’s still teething a ready supply of Tylenol is very necessary. Nothing kills road trip fun faster than a screaming baby.
As far as entertainment goes, Torunn isn’t at the age where songs or games really work yet so while we play kid tunes for her on occasion she doesn’t really get into those. Chew toys and peek-a-boo are where it’s at these days. I think two things we’ll add to the mix as she gets older is an interactive car seat toy that is a special treat for road trips and maybe iPad privileges. We’re not big fans of plugging her into the digital toy while we roll down the road but we can totally see where it might be worthwhile on occasion.
For us, the biggest thing for traveling with a kid has been readjusting our expectations for road trips. We’ve learned that it takes us about 1/3 longer to travel then it used to and that 8 hours about as long a day as Torunn will stand being in the car. What this means for our future travels it’s hard to say. Many of our favorite destinations are at least 10 hours away and I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that traveling with a wee one is going to get any easier for many years. I’m sure we’ll find ways to recalibrate again but for now we’re just happy to be back to traveling.